Make Your Own Shamrock Shake for St. Patrick’s Day

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Forget March Madness. There’s only one season that matters this time of year — Shamrock Shake season! That’s right. March is here, and McDonald’s finally has the uber delicious Shamrock Shake back on its menu. Since it’s only around for a limited time, there are not many chances of scoring our favorite green, minty dessert drink. Luckily for us, we’ve found a few DIY versions that hold up to the original. Here’s how you can make your own Shamrock Shakes for St. Patrick’s Day (and beyond).

What You’ll Need

For any kind of shake, you’ll probably want a drink mixer, blender, or hand mixer (if you’re okay making a mess with it). But blenders and mixers can be hard to come by if you’re in a dorm room. Most residence hall rules forbid them. If that’s the case for you, we recommend grabbing a mason jar and canceling your arm workouts for the week.

As for ingredients, your base is simple: 2 scoops of vanilla ice cream (full fat and with sugar is best), 1 cup of whole fat milk, ½  teaspoon of vanilla extract, and 3 tbsp chocolate syrup. To get the green look, you’ll want green food coloring or green sugar sprinkles. If you’re all about the toppings, the classic recipe also has a generous amount of whipped cream and a cherry. You can find all these ingredients at the grocery store.

How to Make

To get the best consistency, let the ice cream sit out for five to ten minutes to soften. You can microwave to speed it up but only do it for a few seconds at a time.

Then, place the ice cream in the blender with the milk, vanilla, and optional food coloring. Blend for ten-second intervals until smooth and drinkable. You don’t want to see chunks of ice cream leftover. If you’re blender-less, place everything in a mason jar with a tight lid and get shaking. It will take a while, so be prepared to feel sore in the morning (it will be worth it).

Add the chocolate to your glass by swirling it around inside before pouring your shake. Top with the whipped cream, sprinkles, and cherry for presentation. We recommend a giant straw to go with it.

Ideas for a Healthier Version

It’s not impossible to make a low-fat version of the shake. After all, eating healthy shouldn’t be eating boring! And besides, who wants to skip out on a Shamrock Shake?

It’s all about finding the right alternative ingredients that still give you the same great taste and flavor. We recommend replacing your ice cream with a low carb version like Halo Top or Arctic Zero which boost low fat, low calorie, and high protein offerings. Mix it with skim or 0% milk for even fewer calories.

Go ahead and skip the toppings, including the chocolate, while you’re at it. But if you still want to make it decadent, let yourself splurge on melted dark chocolate which is rich in nutrients and great for a treat.

After all, everyone should be able to indulge in a Shamrock Shake for St. Paddy’s Day!

Tips to Stay Healthy This Semester

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Getting back into the groove of school can be challenging after winter break. You just spent a few weeks kicking back, enjoying the holidays, hanging out with friends without a care in the world. You’ve conquered finals! Nothing to worry about until new classes start! You earned a bit of relaxation.

Except now that break is over, you’re back in the real world: back to hectic schedules, walking across campus, and constantly braving the cold. The average undergrad student spends about 3 hours getting ready and walking to and from class. There’s hardly any time to focus on school work, let alone think about staying healthy — and I’m not talking about hitting the rec center.

We all get sick this time of year, but there’s a reason that college campuses get hit particularly hard. Freshmen, in particular, are vulnerable. It wouldn’t have been that bad to get sick over break — but now, just when you’re starting to get back into the swing of things? A bad cold can make it difficult to study, and bad flu can set you back a few weeks. How can you stay healthy this semester?

What Everyone Knows But Doesn’t Do

Stop it before it even starts … Diseases spread more during winter months because everyone holes up indoors. That means that all those communal surfaces have more germs than you’d think. The average desk has 400 times more bacteria than a toilet seat. In order to prevent getting sick, follow some common sense advice!

  • Wash your hands thoroughly, regularly. If you live somewhere with cold, dry air, make sure to moisturize afterward.
  • Carry hand sanitizer for sticky situations. Many schools will give small containers out for free, so be on the lookout at career fairs and the like!
  • Don’t share straws, silverware, or pencils that have clearly been chewed on.
  • Don’t touch your mouth or face after spending time in class, the library, or any high-traffic area.
  • Get a flu shot. Most colleges offer these for free! Since this year’s flu season is going to be particularly bad, make sure you get yours.

Yeah, you might know all this already. This is just a friendly reminder to actually follow the advice this year.

Advanced Advice

Alright, those are the basics, but what else can you do to prevent from getting sick? Well, there are a couple of habits that make college students particularly vulnerable.

Are you getting enough sleep? And, no, in class doesn’t count. You probably need around 8 hours a night. That might sound like a dream, but without proper sleep your immune system is vulnerable. If you just can’t make it to 8 hours during the night, though, don’t be ashamed to take a nap. Better you lose a few hours of studying than a few days of class.

Naps can also lower your stress level, which is hugely helpful towards maintaining a healthy immune system. Make sure you are taking time to relax. Too many college students are too busy multitasking and resume-building that they work themselves to bed.

Be aware of your surroundings. This is one of the hardest things to monitor but by far the most helpful. Many college dorms are cramped spaces filled with as many people as possible. This is the perfect environment for bacteria and viruses to spread. If your roommate says they are not feeling well, stock up on antibacterial wipes and vitamin C!

Know When to Get Help

Too many college kids are so worried about saving money that they spread disease and get worse when they should’ve gone to the doctor. Your college probably has a clinic on campus, and they will work with you to cut down on the cost! There’s no reason you should continue to languish in misery when there are medications and treatments to help you get back on your feet.

If you’ve been sick for more than a couple days, consider that you might have something more serious. That sore throat might be strep — the differences between the flu and pneumonia aren’t as obvious as you’d think — and having a fever for multiple days is a definitely a cause for concern. If you’re worried that this could be something more, go to the doctor and encourage friends to do the same.

Staying healthy in college is more challenging than most people think. Between classes, work, and juggling a social life, you’re stressed enough as it is. This is just one more thing to think about. However, if you’re health lags behind, you can’t really juggle anything else. Staying in tip-top shape needs to be a priority this winter. So bundle up and use your head!

9 Activities for College Students Between Christmas and New Years

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Taking time to relax at home after finals week over Christmas break

Winter break is, by far, one of the best times of the year. Of course, we’re off school and finally relaxing after a stressful finals marathon. There’s also the holidays to celebrate with presents and treats to keep us occupied. However, in between Christmas and New Years is a blank space where nothing much happens. Instead of being bored, we’ve made a list of the top 9 things you can do between Christmas and New Years that will make the most of your winter break.

  1. Winter Wardrobe Updating

The best time to shop for deals on winter clothes? Right after Christmas! Everyone’s got great deals on dresses, pants, coats, hats, etc. And you’ll want a new outfit for your NYE party anyways! Go splurge a little and do some wardrobe remodeling.

      2. Get Yourself on Track

You could wait till the New Years to start a workout routine, but that’s kind of a waste. Instead, beat the crowds and get to the gym when it’s still quiet and deserted. Your body will thank you for the jumpstart.

Enjoying the winter wonderland over the holidays

     3. Pamper and Primp

To us, there’s nothing more relaxing than a fresh new manicure and an awesome haircut. Stand out of the crowd on NYE by gifting yourself a mini-makeover. Spa day required!

     4. Friendmas

There’s Friendsgiving and Galentine’s Day. Why not Friendmas? Get your hometown gang together and hold a white elephant party with gifts you’d rather not have gotten. It’s the perfect excuse to throw a little party.

     5. Prepare for the Inevitable

Spring semester is coming faster than you think. And before you know it, you’ll be on a flight or car ride back to campus. Don’t be left unprepared. Take a day and buy your books and supplies beforehand. Review over the syllabus of your new classes, and take care of any holds on your accounts. Most colleges are open for business.

     6. Volunteer Some Time

After the Christmas rush, many organizations have a dead spot of no volunteers between holidays. Pick up the slack and help others in need by taking a shift at your favorite charity. You can even visit Grandma’s senior home or spend time with some adorable, adoptable puppies.

Time around the fireplace can make for great family memories

     7. Make More Family Memories

While it might be a bit tempting to spend time out of the house, our time with our families is short and always dwindling. This week gives us precious time to spend just a few more hours with the ones who love us most. Do some baking with mom, go on a hike with dad, head over to the mall with younger siblings… it all matters.

     8. Catch Up on Oscar Contenders

Awards season is near! That means that movie theaters in your area are packed with blockbuster hits and indie award nominees. This is the perfect time to get to the theater to see each and every one of them! Make a day to marathon through your top picks, or just choose one or two at random if you’re looking to be surprised.

     9. Refresh and Renew

Pampering isn’t for everyone. Some of us would rather refresh our minds and bodies by connecting with nature, hitting a quiet art museum, or taking a yoga class. After the rush of the holidays, pick an activity that speaks to you, and enjoy the peace and quiet it gives you.

10 Halloween Costumes You Can Make In Your Dorm Room

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Making your own costume is a must when you’re on budget. But when you’re a college student living in a tiny dorm room with limited crafting resources, making your own Halloween costume can be tricky. We picked out our top ten creative ideas for college-approved costumes to help you pick out your winning look.

     1.Crazy Cat Lady

Bedhead, mixed matched clothes, stuffed cats pinned to your clothes or carried in a purse. That’s all you need to pull off this nightmare costume!

     2. Candy Crush

There are so many food-related DIY ideas out there. Our favorites are a gumball machine (red skirt or pants and taped fuzzy, colored balls to a white t-shirt), pineapple (yellow dress with green, leafy headdress), and can of soda (dress or single colored outfit with your flavor printed across your chest and a tin colored paper plate hat as the cap). So easy and sweet!

     3. Stickfigure

White shirt and pants and black electrical tape lining the body make an instant stick figure. Add string, battery powered lights and you’re the glow-in-the-dark version! Another twist is to be the women’s or men’s bathroom man or woman using cardboard cutouts.

     4. LEGO Piece

A large Amazon box and glued on containers painted in one color makes the perfect lego you can wear around all night. The trick is finding a box big enough!

     5. Fortune Teller

If you’re into the boho look, you can basically take anything in your wardrobe (crazy colored skirt or pants, bright colored top, knit sweater, and oversized headband) and go with it. Bring a crystal ball (glowing bouncy ball works) to tell fortunes all night.

     6. Game Piece

If you have a suit, you can be the Monopoly man with his monocle and fake money. You can DIY a Guess Who piece with a cardboard frame and some inspiration from the real characters. Add Operations cute body parts to nude colored clothing (and don’t forget the red undies). Or, consider buying the Twister mat and DIY-ing a simple dress for the night.

     7. Work of Art

If you’re great with makeup and a fan of fine art, combine your skills and recreate your favorite painting. Some popular choices include the Girl with the Pearl Earring, a Lichtenstein character, or even a Greek statue.

     8. Emoji Characters

A yellow outfit and some cut out facial expressions makes a quick and easy emoji. You can also be the more expressive emojis out there like the boy running or the girl crossing her arms.

     9. Brand Labels

Starbucks lovers can become a cup of whatever they order with a white or brown outfit and the Starbucks logo wrapped around their waist (giant green straw optional). Flannel loving guys with a beard (or a fake one if you have the patience to draw or glue one on) make great Brawny paper towel men. If you’ve got a yellow raincoat and an umbrella, you can become the Morton Salt girl in seconds! Get creative with your pantry items.

     10. Protesting Halloween

Maybe you’re not in the spirit or Halloween isn’t your thing. That’s okay too. Instead of playing along, make the message loud and clear by dressing in another holiday’s outfit instead. Wear an ugly Christmas sweater or a Santa costume. Bring out the Easter bunny baskets and ears. Go all Uncle Sam. It’ll have everyone talking!

8 of the Best Ways to Spend Labor Day Weekend on Campus

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Spending long, holiday weekends stuck on campus can be a drag. But this Labor Day can be different! With a little creativity and planning, you can make your holiday in the dorm rooms the best yet. Here are seven ways you can make your day off perfect.

1. Catch up on sleep

Even though you’re at the start of the semester, we’re betting you could use some shut eye. The beginning of a term is the most stressful part, so why not enjoy a day in bed, counting sheep, and ignoring everyone’s calls or emails. Add some ambient sound, some noise canceling headphones, and a comfy blanket, and you’re all set for your extended bedtime.

 

2. Prepare for the semester

The first few weeks of school are a whirl of chaos. That’s why Labor Day could be the perfect time to update your calendar, organize your desk, and input your assignment to-do’s. While it’s not exactly fun, it’s essential and will get you on the right track for the rest of the term.

 

3. Shop the best Labor Day deals

Like many federal holidays, there are a ton of hot shopping deals out there to score! Grab a friend and a reusable bag and stock up on items like discounted school supplies, fall clothing and shoes, dorm decor, and summer clearance items. Don’t forget to check online either!

 

4. Enjoy the silence

If you’re living at a mostly commuter school, your campus might empty out on holidays like today. That’s okay! While you may feel a bit lonely (totally normal), you could use today to relax, rewind, and explore your school without the crowds. Find a sunny spot and read a book or have a picnic on the quad with others hanging back over the long weekend.

 

5. Treat Yo’ Self!

We love using long weekends to pamper ourselves, and you just might, too. Give yourself a spa day by splurging on some new nail polish or experiment with one of those popular DIY facemasks (try charcoal if you dare). Take a yoga class in town, see a movie you have been dying to watch, or take yourself out for dinner. Sometimes doing things solo is the way to go!

 

6. Make a new friend

Whether you’re a freshman or graduating at the end of the semester, long weekends are always great times to reach out and make new friends. Open your dorm room door and invite others to share a movie marathon with you or throw a dorm floor party with your RA. Who knows — you may just meet your new BFF.

 

7. Get outdoors

Sure, it may not be that traditional game of football you play with your brothers or that big parade you see with your hometown squad, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get outside and enjoy the summer weather. After all, it’ll only be around for a few more weeks at most! Go for a run, play frisbee with your roommates, put a call out for co-ed softball teams, or turn up the music and throw an impromptu dance party! As long as you’re moving and outdoors, you won’t regret it.

 

8. Volunteer locally

Labor Day is a celebration of workers and those who make our country so wonderful. Why not give back this year by volunteering? Head to your campus volunteer group and see if they have any planned opportunities in your neighborhood. If not, start your own! Get in touch with a nursing home, talk to an animal shelter, or sign up for a shift cleaning up the areas around your school. The more people you bring along, the bigger impact you’ll have.

How to Hit the Ground Running in January

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Let’s just start off with: you’re right.  You do deserve a break.  Well, you will, depending on whether you’ve finished your finals yet or not.  You might have believed that you were all caught up, but then you found out that your physics final is graded on a curve, so now you’re freaking out… Or maybe you knew these couple weeks would suck all along.  Either way, this is a particularly stressful period.

Unfortunately, you’re probably responding to that stress in a not-so-healthy way.  The cycle of staying up late and struggling to get out of bed for class, let alone the gym, has a way of perpetuating itself all the way until Holiday Break.  And while exercise is a great way to relieve stress and work off those study break snacks, let’s be honest: you’ve probably skipped a couple days at the gym.  Which isn’t so bad, but when coupled with the fact that lack of sleep makes you eat more and the upcoming holidays, December can be tough on your fitness goals.  It’s okay, you’ll pick it up again next semester, right?

That’s certainly possible, but you don’t want to a part of the New Year’s Resolution crowd that works out intermittently for a month and then are never seen at the rec center again.  It can be all too easy to put off starting a fitness regimen or to let it fall by the wayside.  So, while yes, you do deserve a break, you should also be prepared to start a new routine come next semester and stick to it.

What Do You Want to Improve?

The best workouts will involve your entire body, including flexibility, coordination, and strength.  By practicing a variety of skills, you’ll lower your risk of injury and maximize performance.  However, you can still focus on something specific that you’d like to improve.  If you don’t like your arms, can’t touch your toes, or would like to lose some weight after the holidays, you should cater to your fitness goals.  Just don’t neglect every other muscle group.

Write it Down!

It’s no secret anymore that writing down goals makes achieving them more likely.  It might feel stupid or childish, but it really does work.  Even if you’re self-conscious, you can write them down in a private place– just make sure that it’s somewhere you see frequently (a planner, a note taped in your closet, in your phone, etc.) That way, it will remind you of your goal and solidify your commitment.

Additionally, writing down your goals will force you to be specific.  You might think, “I want to gain muscle,” but when you start writing it down you realize that there are a lot of specifics to consider.  By when?  How much?  Are you willing to make the sacrifices necessary to reach your goal in time?  And, most importantly, is your goal realistic and healthy?

Account for Real Life

Realize that you’re not going to be perfect.  There’s going to be friends’ birthdays, emergency assignments, and other things that you can’t control.  You might miss a couple of workouts.  The important thing is that you don’t let that derail you overall.  You can also minimize the impact of these distractions by planning ahead.

  • Know the exact routine that you’re going to do at the gym so you don’t waste time in between machines.

  • If you have an early morning class, set out your clothes and backpack the night before, so you can minimize excuses to miss your morning workout.

  • Plan out your meals so that you can hold yourself accountable for your nutrition goals.  No more easy hamburgers in the dining hall when you’re rushing between classes or meetings, because you planned ahead!

  • Encourage your friends to join you.  That way,  you don’t have to choose between socializing and working out!

There’s going to be obstacles blocking every goal.  That’s why you haven’t completed it yet!  But with some careful planning and motivation, your New Year’s resolution can become an All-Year resolution.  For now, focus on your finals, enjoy the holidays, and come back next semester ready to achieve.

 

Easy Holiday Recipes for College Students

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With the holiday season coming up, it’s no surprise that you’ll be wanting a few holiday treats to snack on in the dorm.  Since you can’t have Mom’s home baked goods when you’re in college, you’ll have to come up with another way to get them–either hit up a grocery store or try your own hand at baking.  Not everyone is meant to be a master baker, but these recipes are so simple that anyone will be able to do them.

1. Three Ingredient Butter Cookies

3 ingredient shortbread cookies 2

What’s better than a cookie recipe that only requires butter, brown sugar, and flour?

2.  Christmas Crunch

Among the easiest recipes out there, this yummy snack can probably be made with things you already have stocked up in your dorm.

3.  Eggnog Dip

This Eggnog Dip, delicious and simple, comes together easily and is perfect for holiday parties!

This sweet dip would be perfect for parties and gatherings.  Pair it with anything from sweet cookies to salty pretzels.

What are you looking forward to baking up this holiday season?

8 Different & Fresh Costume Ideas for College Students

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Halloween is the time to let your creative style shine! But costumes from the stores can be so dated or unoriginal. If you’re stuck on what costumes you can make on a budget or wow your party guests with, these suggestions are the perfect alternatives to what you can buy in the store.

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1.   Your Professor

They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. If you have a professor with a unique sense of style or personality (as well as a really good sense of humor), take the time to make an outfit that will impress other students while giving you a chance to let loose after class.

2.   Piece of Art

Do you imagine yourself good looking enough to hang in a museum? Why not make yourself the art! Grab a costume that resembles your favorite art piece (such as overalls for American Gothic). Then, add an oversized frame to carry around through the evening.

3.   Black and White Movie

Vintage lovers will totally flip for a black and white noir themed costume. Grab only black and white clothing along with black, white, and gray face paint and temporary hair coloring. Paint your skin to resemble the grays and whites of someone on television and dye your hair black. You can even go for particular characters like Lucy from I Love Lucy or the couple from The Honeymooners.

4.   Sushi Platter

Group costumes are a blast. But if you don’t have much money or time to waste, go with food-inspired outfits like sushi! Each pick out your favorite piece of sushi. Then wear a white shirt and pants. Use dollar store pillows with paint to create the salmon, shrimp, or more and then wrap a black tie to hold it in place. Instant sushi!

5.   Sweet Treats

Like sushi, candy can also be a quick costume idea. Blow up colored balloons and use a large, transparent bag to hold them in for a packet of jelly beans. Print out the Starbucks logo to tape to a white shirt and add a white hat and a green tube to be transformed into a latte. Use fabric swatches in orange, yellow, and white along with a white party hat to make a candy corn costume.

6.   Piñata

If time isn’t pressing, you can make yourself into a real life piñata complete with candy! Get a thrift store dress that you won’t mind ruining. Then, use colorful paper to make rows of frayed material. Use fabric glue to stick the rows of paper onto the dress. Then, add a pointed party hat to seal the deal. Carry around a stick and hand out candy if you want to be a real crowd-pleaser.

7.   Favorite Brand

Get your inspiration from things in your dorm room! Wear pink bunny ears and all pink outfit along with a drum to become the Energizer Bunny. Find a yellow coat and shoes along with a white umbrella to look like the Morton Salt girl. Don a tux, a curly mustache, and a monocle to become Mr. Moneybags from the Monopoly game.  Wear a large brown dress and a yellow hat to portray Mrs. Butterworth.

8.   Stick Figure

Modern lovers of simplicity will love creating their own stick figure costume! Using a white t-shirt, pants, and gloves, draw the lines of stick figure onto your clothing using a fabric marker. For your face, use black lipstick or liner to make the famous, poorly drawn circle face. Your friends will love your creativity!

The Holiday Season is Upon us! Need the Perfect Gift?

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It’s about that time to start checking all those very special elves off your list. December marks the beginning of a fun and festive month filled with great food, loving family & friends and a whole lot of presents! If you’re anything like me, you start planning your gift-lists two months in advance. But let’s face it, sometimes those last minute gifts are a necessity when you don’t know what to buy. With thousands of technological gadgets, sports team memorabilia, house furnishing desires and more, it can sometimes be hard to pick just the right thing. This year, we’re introducing our very first ‘Holiday Gift Guide’ to help you get everything you need all in one place. From thousands of wall art, canvases and decals to choose from to holiday decorations, pro-sports gear and more, we’re stocking up the market to make your holiday gifting a breeze! Here’s a sneak peek of what you can find at our home.

1) Wall Art GALORE: We’re not kidding when we say you’ll spend hours trying to pick which posters, canvases and wall decals you want. We even have larger-than-human size wall decals of your loved one’s favorite sports players. And, with our posters running from just $8.00 and up, you don’t have to pick just one! Big Bang Theory, Godfather, Family Guy, Old School, Twilight, Game of Thrones and more – we’ve got the entire selection, right here.

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2) The All New FAN ZONE! Sports Lovers, UNITE: From leather recliners, director’s chairs, wall pennants, to garden gnomes and beyond, we’ve got a large selection of items in all your favorite teams. From NFL to NHL, MLB and more!

1230525__dteg7e4nxklwfrbqpujczixrnrm3) Holiday Decorations You Can Really STICK to: Decorating for the holidays is always fun and exciting. You get the tree, decorate it with ornaments and hang the lights. The holiday plate-ware makes it’s appearance for the first time in the season, and the mistletoe comes out. Now you can spruce up your festive decorations with holiday decor at the market. Our large holiday themed wall decals make a statement and are hassle-free to remove!

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Want to see more? Check out our Gift Guide and make all your seasons bright!